Saturday, July 13, 2019

I Bet They Still Can't Hit Anything

This week Disney & Lucasfilm revealed a sneak peak of a new character from their upcoming Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker: The Sith Trooper!

Hmm. OK, admittedly it's a striking design. But when you get right down to it, it's just a plain old First Order Stormtrooper painted red. That's it. There's nothing else to it, guys. 

This is what Disney Star Wars has come to. They're literally just taking old ideas, slapping a coat of paint on them and pretending they're new and innovative.

This Sith Trooper is a perfect real-world example of "Malibu Stacy's Got A New Hat Syndrome."

I can't wait for Star Wars: Episode X, in which Disney introduces their new squad of Skittle Troopers!

R.I.P. Ross Perot

R.I.P. Ross Perot, who died this week at age 89.

If I'm being honest, I was surprised to find out he was still alive up to now. I'm even more surprised to find out he was only 89. He seemed that old when he rose to prominence back in the 90s.

For those of you wondering who the hell he was, Perot was a self-made Texas billionaire, presidential candidate and source of endless comedy material for talk show hosts and SNL (particularly Dana Carvey).

Perot famously ran for president in 1992 as an independent candidate, alongside George Bush 1.0 and Bill Clinton. Although he lost, he somehow managed to score an absolutely astonishing 19% of the popular vote! Holy Crap!

He ran again in 1996 against Bob Dole and incumbent Bill Clinton. He lost again, racking up just 8% of the popular vote that time. Still an impressive feat for an independent candidate.

Most people have forgotten or are unaware of Perot's involvement in the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. 

Back in 1979, the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Fund was attempting to build a monument to the fallen soldiers of the conflict. Unable to raise enough funds on their own, they turned to Perot for some reason, who ponied up $171,000 (what an oddly random amount). 

The organization then held a nationwide contest to come up with a design for the Memorial. The competition was the largest in US history up to that time, receiving 1,421 entries. 

The winning entry was designed by a 21 year old Yale architecture student named Maya Lin. Rather than a traditional statue, her monument featured a long, V-shaped wall made out of black marble. The Wall would be engraved with the names of every soldier killed in the Vietnam War. In an interesting twist, rather than list the names alphabetically, they'd appear in the order in which the soldiers were killed. Viewers standing in front of the Wall would see their own reflections superimposed over the thousands and thousands of names of the fallen.

It was a high-concept design that was immediately controversial (making me wonder why they chose it in the first place). Perot was the Wall's biggest opponent, as he absolutely hated the unconventional idea. He wanted a more traditional monument, featuring bronze statues of soldiers, ala the Marine Corps War Memorial (you know, the one with the guys trying to raise the flag). 

Perot offered up several dull, boring alternatives, and was appalled when veteran groups announced they actually liked Lin's design.

Perot then tried a different tactic, calling Lin's Asian heritage into question. According to him, it was shameful and outrageous for a Vietnam War memorial to be designed by an "egg roll." Yeah, he really said that. Oh, Ross. You lovable billionaire racist, you. Of course Perot failed to mention that Maya Lin was born in Ohio, not freakin' Phnom Penh.

Despite all that unpleasantness, Perot lost his argument and the Wall was eventually built. Even better, the design turned out to be massively popular, as millions visit it every year and are emotionally overwhelmed by it. 

Take that, Ross Perot!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Stick A Fork In It

I find it ironic that Target's currently charging $13 bucks for a Forky figure from Disney/Pixar's latest blockbuster Toy Story 4. An action figure made from a plastic utensil and common arts & crafts supplies. A toy one could easily make oneself for fifty cents.

Of course a homemade Forky wouldn't come with "Wacky Action," so there's that...

It Came From The Cineplex: The Dead Don't Die

The Dead Don't Die was written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. 

Jarmusch previously wrote You Are Not I. He wrote and directed Permanent Vacation, Stranger than Paradise, Down By Law, Mystery Train, Night On Earth, Dead Man, Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai, Coffee And Cigarettes, Broken Flowers, The Limits Of Control, Only Lovers Left Alive and Paterson

As you can tell from that resume, Jarmusch is an indie filmmaker whose movies are typically languid, low-key affairs that are short on plot but on long mood and atmosphere. His characters tend to sit or drive around while slowly revealing their personalities through drawn-out, banal conversation.

The Dead Don't Die is exactly what I expected from a Jim Jarmusch zombie movie— slow, mildly humorous and filled with bizarre characters. His fingerprints are all over every frame, and I'd have recognized it as his work even if I hadn't seen his name in the credits.

The film has an absolutely amazing cast, including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Carol Kane and Tom Waits. Many of them have previously worked with Jarmusch before. They give it their all, but unfortunately there's just not much for them to work with script-wise.

Jarmusch packs the film with concepts and ideas, but they're all half-baked and incredibly vague. Subplots are introduced but never resolved, situations are set up but never pay off, and in one case characters literally run right out of the movie. It's like he shot the film from a rough outline rather than a script.

For me the funniest part of the film is watching critics scrambling to make sense of it. After all, zombie movies have always been used as metaphors for society's ills, so if an indie darling like Jim Jarmusch makes one, it must have some incredibly relevant hidden meaning, right?

Wrong! Film school rejects can search for hidden meaning all they want, but the cold hard truth is there just ain't nothing there. If anything, Jarmusch seems to be actively mocking fans of the zombie genre, which is always a classy touch by any director.


So far the film's made a paltry $10.2 million against its $10.3 million budget (most of which I'm sure went to the movie's cast). Believe it or not, this is probably the highest grossing film of Jarmusch's forty year career!

SPOILERS, I GUESS.

The Plot:

In the small town of Centerville, Chief Of Police Cliff Robertson (played by Bill Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (played by Adam Driver) are on patrol. They enter a local forest where they confront Hermit Bob (played by Tom Waits), who's been accused of stealing chickens from Farmer Miller (played by Steve Buscemi). On the way back to the station, Cliff notes the sun's still up, even though it's well past 8 pm. Ronnie comments that his watch and cellphone have stopped working. 

At the local diner, Farmer Miller, hardware store owner Hank Thompson (played by Danny Glover) and Fern the waitress discuss the strange goings-on. Over at the Centerville Juvenile Detention Center, three teen inmates named Geronimo (?), Olivia and Stella watch a news report concerning "polar fracking," which scientists claim has altered the Earth's rotation.

Elsewhere, Farmer Miller's animals have all disappeared, as have Moonlight Motel owner Danny Perkins' cats.

Cliff and Ronnie return to the police station. Officer Mindy Morrison (played by Chloe Sevigny) is unnerved by the fact that town drunk Mallory O'Brien has died in one of their jail cells, and her body won't be picked up till the next morning. Cliff offers to take the night shift and let Ronnie and Mindy go home for the evening.

At the Ever After Funeral Home, bizarre new undertaker Zelda Winston (played by Tilda Swinton) practices with a samurai sword in a back room (?).

Later that night in the local cemetery, two zombies dig their way out of their graves and wander towards town. They stagger into the diner, where they violently kill Fern and Lily, the cleaning lady. Hank finds them the next morning and calls the police. Cliff, Ronnie and Mindy arrive at the diner and investigate the grisly deaths. Ronnie says he believes zombies were responsible.

Meanwhile, three teens— Zoe (played by Selena Gomez), Jack and Zach drive into town and check into the Moonlight Motel. Cliff and Ronnie arrive at the motel and discuss the diner murders with Danny. Ronnie tells Zoe and her friends to lock their door and stay inside after dark.

Cliff and Ronnie investigate the cemetery, and find several open graves. This convinces Cliff that Ronnie was right and zombies are indeed involved. The two then discuss the best way to eliminate the undead
 namely removing the head or destroying the brain. That night dozens more strangely undecomposed zombies rise from their graves and shamble around town. Hermit Bob watches from a distance. 

Cliff and Ronnie pick up zombie-killing supplies at the hardware store and return to the police station. Shortly afterward, Mallory O'Brien (played by Carol Kane) reanimates in her cell and walks into the office. Ronnie grabs a wicked-looking machete and decapitates her, much to Mindy's shock and horror.

At the funeral home, Zelda works on a couple of bodies. They also reanimate, so she decapitates them with her samurai sword. She then walks to the police station, where Cliff fills her in as to what's going on. For no good reason, Zelda suggests the three cops go out on patrol 
while she holds down the fort at the station. Against all logic and reason they all agree.

The three policemen arrive at the motel, where they find a zombified Danny has killed Zoe and her friends. Ronnie casually severs their heads so their bodies can't reanimate.

Meanwhile, Hank and gas station owner Bobby Wiggins hide from the zombie horde in the hardware store. Eventually the zombies break through their barricade and overrun them. Farmer Miller's also killed by a zombie swarm outside his house. At the Juvie Center, zombies somehow get in and kill all the guards. Geronimo, Olivia and Stella manage to escape and run out of the movie, never to be seen again.

At the police station, Zelda types a series of numbers into the computer (?). She then borrows Ronnie's Smart car, weaving around zombies in the street.

Cliff, Ronnie and Mindy decide to return to the cemetery, because the script says so. The patrol car gets stuck when Cliff tries to run over a herd of zombies. They're then trapped as the undead surround the car and pound on the windows. Mindy freaks out when she sees her zombified Granny trying to get it. She opens the back door and runs out into the horde, where she's immediately killed.

Cliff and Ronnie discuss their situation in the patrol car. Zelda enters the cemetery, drawing the zombies toward her and away from the car. Instead of running for their lives, Cliff and Ronnie just sit and watch her. Zelda kills several zombies that approach her with her sword. Suddenly a UFO appears and hovers over her. It beams her up and flies away. Cliff and Ronnie stare in disbelief.

After a while they decide to make their stand. They exit the car and begin fighting the zombie horde. They manage to "kill" quite a few, but are eventually overwhelmed. Hermit Bob watches them die through his binoculars, saying, "The dead just don't wanna die today."


Thoughts: 

• Jim Jarmusch has never been a particularly subtle filmmaker, and that's never more evident than here.

Polar fracking is mentioned over and over in the film, and turns out to be the cause of the zombie apocalypse. I'm assuming this means Jarmusch is rabidly against the practice? Or not. It's entirely possible he just needed a perfunctory cause for the zombie apocalypse, and fracking was as good as any? There's no way to tell.

Hermit Bob wanders through the forest and notices the fracking's caused a colony of ants to frantically scurry around their gigantic hills. At the end of the film he says, "Humanity's jacked up like those ants." Wow, that's deep, man!

Once the zombies rise, they shamble around moaning things like, "Chardonay," "Wifi," "Siri" and "Xanax." Wow, a movie in which zombies are a metaphor for rampant, mindless consumerism! That's never been done before! Finally, a zombie film with a message!

• Apropos of nothing, if you're wondering what Jim Jarmusch looks like, he has a cameo in 1996's Sling Blade. For some reason he appears as a fast food clerk who sells Carl some "french fried pertaters."

• Bill Murray plays Chief of Police "Cliff Robertson." Was his character named after the actor as a joke, or is it just a coincidence? 
Such is the humor of Jim Jarmusch— you're never quite sure if something's supposed to be funny or not.

In a similar vein, Rosie Perez plays similarly named reporter "Posie Jaurez," and Tilda Swinton plays "Zelda Winston." Ha, I guess?

• Bill Murray and Adam Driver have a fun, breezy chemistry in the film. The movie definitely picks up considerably whenever the two are interacting. Too bad their efforts were in service of nothing though.

• At the beginning of the movie, Ronnie notices his cell phone's dead. A bit later when Zoe and her friends enter town, Jack says his phone doesn't have a charge either.

In the third act though we see several zombies walking around carrying fully functional phones, complete with lit screens. Whoops!

• Turns out polar fracking is a real thing! It involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure, to forcibly release oil from the surrounding rock formations. The process is controversial because it releases large amounts of methane, pollutes the water used in the process and can even cause earthquakes. 

Polar fracking was outlawed in 2016 by President Obama. In recent years massive new oil fields have been discovered in Alaska, prompting oil companies to try and find ways around the ban.

Despite the fact that it's real though, as far as I know it doesn't affect the Earth's axis or cause the dead to rise.

• RZA plays Dean, a delivery man for WUPS (pronounced "Woo P.S."). RZA is a founding member of Wu-Tang Clan, so I guess WUPS is a humorous reference to that? I think?

• There's exactly one scripted joke in the film that's actually somewhat funny. After Fern and Lily are killed, Cliff arrives at the diner to investigate. He goes in, looks at the grisly crime scene and exits. Hank asks, "What could have done it? A wild animal? Several wild animals?"

Ronnie then pulls up in his Smart car, enters the diner, sees the grisly crime scene and exits. He asks "What was it? A wild animal? Several wild animals?"

Mindy appears, enters the diner, sees the grisly crime scene and exits. She asks, "Was it a wild animal? Several wild animals?"

Behold the bone-dry humor of Jim Jarmusch, in which three people saying the exact same thing is the closest the movie gets to hilarity.

• OK, I'll admit I laughed a little when Cliff arrived at the crime scene in his ridiculously tiny Smart car.

• Zoe and her friends blow into town in a Pontiac LeMans, which is the exact same make and model driven by Barbara and Johnny in the 1968 classic Night Of The Living Dead.

For some reason, whenever the zombies are beheaded there's a puff of black smoke instead of a spurt of blood. Eh, I'm OK with that, as I assumed it was a stylistic touch.

• As I mentioned in the intro, the movie sets up numerous subplots that go absolutely nowhere. In every case, these scenes have so little bearing on the story that they could be removed entirely and it wouldn't affect the movie one bit. See for yourself:

— Early on there's some racial tension between Farmer Miller and Hank Thompson. Of course nothing ever comes of it. In fact they're never seen onscreen again after their initial scene!

— When Zoe and her friends enter town, she flirts with Bobby Wiggins, owner of the local gas station. They never interact again. A bit later there's some obvious sexual tension between Zoe and Ronnie, implying they may become the film's love interests. Nope! Zoe and her pals are killed in the third act.

— At one point Zelda Winston apparently sends a signal to her people, then kills several zombies as she drives to the cemetery. Once there, she's beamed aboard a mothership which takes off into space. At no time are we given any sort of explanation as to her behavior or where she's from. 

— Lastly, Geronimo, Olivia and Stella spend the entire movie in juvie, watching news reports and commenting on the zombie apocalypse. They eventually escape and run out of the movie as if they're embarrassed to be seen onscreen. As mentioned above, every one of their scenes could be removed without altering the plot in the slightest.

Did Jarmusch add these arcs as red herrings, so we'd be shocked when the various characters died? Or more likely, did he never intend for the storylines to pay off and was simply trolling the audience again? There's no way to tell.

• The worst part of the film by far were the scenes in which the characters actually discuss the fact that they know they're in a movie or are actors starring in a film.

As the opening credits roll, the soundtrack plays the theme song The Dead Don't Die, written and performed by Sturgill Simpson (whoever that is). A few minutes later Cliff and Ronnie are in their patrol car, driving through Centerville. Cliff turns on the radio and hears it again. He recognizes the song, and wonders why it sounds so familiar. Ronnie says, "Well, it's the theme song."

Then late in the third act, Cliff and Ronnie are trapped in their police cruiser, surrounded by hundreds of brain-hungry zombies. Ronnie utters his catchphrase, "This isn't going to end well," which he's said numerous times throughout the film. Cliff asks him how he knows that, and Ronnie replies that he's "read the script."

Jesus wept. This fourth wall-breaking was downright PAINFUL. I'm not kidding, they actually made me uncomfortable, to the point where I was squirming in my seat. I wanted to get up and leave. 

I have no idea why Jarmusch thought it'd be a good idea to torpedo his film by including these scenes. Did he think they were funny? I can assure him they were not. Nor were they clever or witty. They were just... agonizing.

The movie was tolerable up to the point where it punch a whole in the middle of the fourth wall. After that it completely lost me.

The Dead Don't Die answers the cinematic question, "What would an art house zombie movie be like?" It's slow and meandering, with humor so dry it'd put the Sahara to shame. It also contains numerous subplots that go absolutely nowhere, and could have been cut without altering the plot in the least. As an added bizarre bonus, the characters seem to know they're in a movie (!). If you're a fan of the work of indie auteur Jim Jarmusch, then you'll likely enjoy it. If not, well, then you're in for a lonnnnng 103 minutes. I can't in good conscience recommend it, and give it a C.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

What Happened To The Art Of Movie Poster Design: Spider-Man: Far From Home Again!

Man, the hits, er, I mean the horribly designed movie posters just keep comin.' I don't know what the hell's going on, but so far Summer 2019 has a been an absolute goldmine of god-awful lobby art.

Nowhere is that more evident than with Marvel/Sony's upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home. Apparently Sony must have had a "Bring Your Kid To Work Day," and one of their designers let their son or daughter take a crack at the entire Spider-Man ad campaign. 

Sony definitely went all out for this film. They didn't just stop at one bad design, they gave us a whole slate of 'em! And yes, I'm blaming Sony here, because Marvel Studios usually puts out decent posters.

Given that the movie's finally premiered, this will likely be the last horrible Spider-Man: Far From Home poster that'll ever be featured. Enjoy!

Here we have the Chinese version of the poster. Not sure whether it was made here in the States or by someone in the Orient, but either way, it's an awful, awful design.

The actual figures themselves aren't too awfully bad for once, and it appears that someone actually too the time to create a customized cityscape, rather than slapping down some uninspired clip art.

The problem here's with the composition. The title's wayyyyyyyy too small down there in the corner. Were they afraid of covering up London Bridge? The release date and other verbiage should all be drastically reduced in order to free up space for the title.

And why is there an acre of space at the top, just to the right of Mysterio? You could almost stick another poster in that real estate!

Lastly, what the holy hell is up with Nick Fury in this poster? As with every other Spider-Man: Far From Home poster, Sony desperately wanted to remind us that Samuel L. Jackson stars in the film. But there was a problem here. Nick Fury doesn't swing from webs or fly. So how do you include him in a layout that features characters cavorting a thousand feet off the ground?

The answer's simple! Create a non-existent 300 story building containing fifteen foot tall ceilings, and have him posing in front of a window just as Spidey & Misty swoop by! Never mind that the windows are somehow both translucent and reflective (which I suppose is possible, but unlikely), nobody'll ever think twice about it.

Congrats to Sony for another winning design!

Out, Out, Damned Outage!

I intended to upload several posts last night, but Time-Warner Cable, my wonderful, wonderful internet provider, had other ideas for my evening. My internet service was down for a full twenty four hours, plunging my home back into the 1960s. 

! couldn't send or receive email, couldn't get online, couldn't use my phone (without using my own data) and couldn't stream any TV. You don't realize how much we've grown to depend on the internet for pretty much everything until it disappears.

I'm assuming another butterfly landed on one of their lines, causing an outage throughout the entire neighborhood. Same exact thing happened last month, which is seriously making me think about jumping to their competition. Hopefully their crack staff will have the problem sorted out soon.


Saturday, July 6, 2019

R.I.P. MoviePass (For Real This Time!)

Longtime readers of Bob Canada's Blogworld know all about my experience last year with MoviePass, the beleaguered theater subscription service. 

To refresh your memory: I signed up for MoviePass in May of 2018. It was awesome for the first two months, as I saw a ton of movies on their dime. It was too good to be true though, as they quickly began hemorrhaging money. In order to survive, they began imposing a series of increasing Draconian restrictions on the card, that literally made it impossible to use. I wasn't about to pay ten bucks a month for nothing, so I canceled at the end of October 2018.

Honestly I didn't give them a second thought after that, and pretty much forgot all about them. 

That's why I was surprised to see them back in the news today. Apparently MoviePass is "going dark" for the next few weeks, as the troubled company overhauls its mobile app (???).

In a letter from MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe, "There's never a good time to have to do this But to complete the improved version of our app, one that we believe will provide a much better experience for our subscribers, it has to be done."

Who the hell does this? What company in their right mind would shut themselves down while they upgrade their goddamned phone app? No one, that's who! Imagine if the power company, grocery stores and hospitals all shut down for routine server maintenance!

You upgrade your app in-house, and when it's ready you do a live update. You don't shutter your freakin' business while the update's in development! Jesus Christ!

It's patently obvious that this upgrade story is a lame smokescreen, designed to disguise the fact that MoviePass has run out of money yet again. In fact later on in the same letter, Lowe said the company hoped to recapitalize, and would continue its efforts to cut costs.

It would not surprise me one bit if this is MoviePass' swansong, and it simply never comes back after its little break. This upgrade story likely a way to save face as they go down for the third time. You heard it here first! R.I.P. MoviePass! For real this time!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Bosses From The Eighth Circle Of Hell: Chough

Man, it's been AGES since I've posted one of these! Time to rectify that immediately, with a brand-spanking new Bosses From The Eighth Circle Of Hell post!

Throughout my career I've prided myself on working hard, performing what's asked of me to the best of my ability and being an all-around good employee. I've also done my best to get along with my various bosses.

Alas, sometimes that's just not possible. Sometimes you end up with a Boss From The Eighth Circle Of Hell.

Back in the 1990s I worked at a marketing agency for a rather colorful Boss.

I don't want to mention any names here, so let's just call that particular boss "Mr. Bossman." At some point in his life, Mr. Bossman discovered that his family crest featured a couple of choughs on it. Don't know what the hell a chough is? Don't feel bad, neither did I until he told me. 

Basically a "chough" is a large black bird in the crow family, found mainly in Britain. For no good reason Mr. Bossman was quite proud of this fact, and even worked a chough into the company logo (!). 

Despite how it looks, the word's pronounced "chuff." Remember that, as it's about to become important.

The marketing agency's building was protected by a security system, complete with a keypad next to the door. Whoever unlocked the door first thing in the morning would set off the beeping alarm, and wold have to punch in the security code to disable it.

If the code wasn't entered in time or incorrectly, the security company would call and demand to know the secret password. If they didn't receive the correct one, they'd think the building was being robbed and immediately dispatch the cops.

So what was the secret password? You guessed it "chough!"

One day I was the first one in the office and unlocked the door, which set off the alarm. I entered the code, but the alarm just kept beeping. I punched it in a second time, to no avail. Eventually I realized I'd transposed a two of the numbers. Unfortunately by then it was too late and the window of opportunity had expired. 

A few seconds later the phone rang. I answered it, and sure enough it was the security company, asking for the secret password. I said, "It's chough." The person on the other end said, "NO! That's not it! I'm sending the police over right away!"

I knew darned good and well that was the password, so why were they calling the cops? I finally figured it out— even though I told the guy the correct password, he didn't recognize it as such because he looked at "chough" and thought it was pronounced "cough" or "chooge" or some such thing. 

Instead of picking a normal, human password, Mr. Bossman chose one no one had ever heard of and was impossible to pronounce! Brilliant idea!

I hurriedly spelled out the password to the security guy and explained what it meant and how it was pronounced. Somehow I managed to convince him I wasn't a burglar, and avoided an unpleasant police shootout and/or jail time.

Helpful tip to anyone out there with a security system pick a password that's recognizable and easy to pronounce!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Flash Season 5, Episode 20: Gone Rogue


This week on The Flash we get another drawn-out filler episode, as the show nears its season finale. 

The entire plot involves obtaining a special gun that can defeat Cicada II (something that should have been taken care of weeks ago), and honestly should have taken ten minutes to tell. Instead we get an "Evil Nora" subplot that's handwaved away by the end, three unremarkable villains, and more pep talks than you can count.

Carlos Valdes finally deigns to return to the show this week. These constant absences make it difficult to discount the rumors that Cisco's being written off the show. I hope not, as I think the series will suffer without him. We'll find out for sure in a few months.

The Plot:
Nora, who's apparently become "evil" after exposure to the Negative Speed Force, is now back in 2019. She runs to G. Simone & Associates (an architectural firm) and has Gideon scan their databanks for info on McCulloch Technologies (got all that?). Once she has it she fries their servers with a speed lightning bolt. Gideon examines the data and says Nora can't break into McCulloch on her own. PLOT POINT!

The next day at STAR Labs, Team Flash sets up a detection grid to find Nora, but come up with nothing. Ralph and Sherloque have been trying to find Cicada II and Grace Gibbons, but haven't had any luck either. Caitlin gets an alert saying someone's broken into her late father Thomas' arctic lab. Ralph volunteers to help her check it out.

Sherloque asks Cisco (who's finally back this week) if he's told his gal pal Kamilla about his powers yet. CIsco says no, but that he can tell her any time he wants and makes a hasty retreat.

Just then Barry's alerted to the break in at Simone (timely!). He, Iris and Cisco head out to investigate.

Team Flash meets Joe at Simone & Associates. Through the magic of technobabble, they detect "negative tachyons" in the building, and determine Nora was responsible for stealing data and frying the servers.

At an abandoned garage, Joss Jackam, aka Weather Witch, meets Brie Larvan, aka Bug-Eyed Bandit, aka Queen Bee. Peter Merkel, aka Rag Doll, emerges from a tiny box and unfolds himself. The three are puzzled, wondering who asked them all to meet at the garage. Just then Nora appears, dressed as XS. She says she's the one who invited them all.

Weather Witch suspects a trap, but XS says she's not working with the Flash anymore. She says she gathered them to pull off one big score to split four ways. There's just one condition— no killing. The others ask her to prove that she's "one of them," so XS shows them the stolen blueprints to McCullogh Technologies. I guess?

She explains that inside McCullogh is a lab called The Forge, which is filled with high tech weapons worth millions on the black market. Unfortunately the lab's outfitted with metahuman power dampeners, which is why she needs Weather Witch and Queen Bee, as 
their powers are derived from dark matter tech, and are unaffected by the dampeners.


In the arctic, Caitlin and Ralph search the lab and determine that Cicada II was there. Caitlin examines a refrigerator, and realizes Cicada stole Cisco's metahuman cure prototypes from it.

Meanwhile, Cecile tells Iris about the missing McCulloch blueprints, and says Nora's obviously planning on stealing something from them. Iris isn't sure, believing Nora is up to something beyond stealing weapons.


Back at STAR Labs, Barry worries about Nora getting into trouble. He decides that when he finds her, he'll tell her she can come back home. Suddenly there's an alarm in the Starchives, and Barry speeds off.

Cisco tells Sherloque an alarm's been tripped in the building's sewer system. They enter and elevator to check it out, and are attacked by Rag Doll. Typical STAR Labs security!

Barry arrives at the Starchives, where he sees Nora stealing Spencer Young's dark matter cell phone. He tells her she can come home if she stops working with Eobard Thawne. She tells Barry it's obvious he still doesn't trust her and has given up on her. As she rants, her body begins vibrating uncontrollably. Barry tries to calm her down, but her eyes glow red and she knocks him across the room with a lightning bolt before speeding off.

Later Barry tells Iris & Cecile that he thinks Nora's still working with Thawne. They then see STAR Labs security footage of Ragdoll and Weather Witch abducting Cisco and Sherloque. They realize Nora's forming her own team of Rogues.

Cut to the garage, where the Rogues have tied up Cisco & Sherloque. Nora enters and asks the others why Sherloque's there. Weather Witch explains it was either bring him along or kill him. Nora hands Spencer's phone to Cisco, and says she needs him to hack into it so she can use it. Cisco refuses, until Nora threatens to vibrate her hand into his chest. Sherloque mentions Barry, and the other Rogues realize Nora's the daughter of the Flash. They're none too happy with this revelation, but Nora convinces them that she's acting on her own.

Meanwhile, Team Flash discovers that McCullogh was collecting dark matter shards from DeVoe's exploded satellite and turning them into weapons. Iris thinks Nora's trying to steal one of these weapons to stop Cicada II. Barry fears she's planning something much worse. He says they need to find her and bring her in now. Iris says maybe it's not so bad if Nora is actually working with Thawne, as she feels he's changed and is trying to redeem himself. Here we go again!

Back at the garage, Nora tells Weather Witch about Barry abandoning her. Weather Witch reveals a similar story about her old man. She says they can't rely on their families, and that the four of them need to stick together. Cisco finishes reprogramming the phone. Queen Bee summons a swarm of her robotic bees to guard Cisco and Sherloque, and the Rogues leave.

At CCPD, Barry tells Joe he feels bad for abandoning Nora, and feels he's not a good parent. Joe gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk™ and makes everything better.

Inside the garage, Cisco and Sherloque manage to escape their bonds. The robotic bees see them and attack, but Cisco opens a breach and they all fly harmlessly through it. They rush off to find Nora and the Young Rogues.

Nora and her new crew, dressed in military uniforms that they somehow obtained from somewhere, arrive at McCulloch. They bluff their way in and are taken on a tour, along with a couple dozen other dignitaries. Nora notes the door to The Forge, and asks to see inside. Their host says it's off limits, so she and her crew knock him out, while holding the rest of the guests captive.

Ragdoll climbs out of a tiny briefcase and slithers into an access pipe. He exits into The Forge and opens the door for the others. Once inside, Weather Witch and Queen Bee immediately turn on Nora.

The two then send out a message to Central City, announcing they'll kill Nora and their other hostages unless the Flash arrives and reveals his true identity to the world. Like there's no one who doesn't already know it! A few seconds later Flash arrives, and Weather Witch orders him to remove his mask.

The Flash begins stalling, and Weather Witch says she's had enough. She blasts him with her lightning rod, revealing "The Flash" is a hologram controlled by Sherloque back at STAR Labs. Just then several of the hostages shut off their holographic generators, revealing they're really Barry, Joe and Iris. Iris & Joe rush the rest of the hostages out of The Forge, while Barry and Nora face off against Weather Wizard and Queen Bee. Unfortunately The Forge is protected by a meta-dampener, meaning the speedsters have no powers. Barry signals Cisco, asking him to deactivate the dampener.

Meanwhile, Ragdoll knocks out Iris and goes after Joe, wrapping his stretchy limbs around his body. Iris recovers long enough to knock out Ragdoll. Nora gets Weather Wizard to shoot lightning at her, and Barry deflects it so it hits the dampener and destroys it. The two speedsters regain their powers and quickly capture Weather Wizard and Queen Bee.

Back at STAR, Nora explains her nonsensical plan. She says she recruited the Young Rogues in order to infiltrate The Forge and steal a high tech "Mirror Gun"— the only weapon in the world that can destroy Cicada II's dagger. She says she thought she could control the Rogues, but quickly realized she was in over her head. She says she didn't tell Team Flash what she was really doing because it was Thawne's plan. As for her becoming evil from using the Negative Speed Force, that was all a ruse as well, in order to help sell her plan.

Amazingly, Team Flash accepts this preposterous explanation. Barry says they should use the gun against Cicada, even though it was Thawne's idea. He says he believes in Nora and apologizes for abandoning her in the future. Iris promises they'll never leave her again.

In the Cortex, Cisco tests out the Mirror Gun Nora stole, and confirms it can indeed destroy Cicada's dagger. Caitlin and Ralph return, telling the others that Cicada stole Cisco's metahuman cure prototypes. He says that's bad news, as the prototypes will kill metas rather than cure them. Caitlin says Cicada plans to use the Atomizer she stole last week to spread the prototypes throughout Central City.

Cut to Cicada's remote cabin. She comforts her catatonic younger self, then begins working on the Atomizer. Cicada then hallucinates a vision of her uncle Orlin, who looks on approvingly at her work.


Thoughts:

• This is the eighth episode of The Flash with "Rogue" in the title. It's also the first "Rogue" episode that doesn't feature Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold.

• Last week Nora learned to use Eobard Thawne's Negative Speed Force in order to return to the present day without Barry detecting her. Being exposed to the Negative Speed Force is dangerous though, as it may or may not cause Nora to turn evil. Sure enough, when she arrives in 2019 her eyes glow an ominous red, and she begins dressing in black leather— a sure sign someone's gone over to the dark side.


Turns out Nora wasn't evil after all, as she was just pretending in order to recruit the Young Rogues. The problem with this is she was acting evil even when no one else was around to see her. The whole "Evil Nora" shtick was as much a trick on the audience as it was on her new team.

• Let's get this out of the way now and talk about Nora's harebrained plan, which is the focus of this week's episode. Nora needs an advanced Mirror Gun from McCulluch Technologies in order to finally defeat Cicada II once and for all. Unfortunately she can't penetrate their high tech security system by herself.

Instead of simply going to Team Flash and asking for their help, she comes up with a much better plan. After seemingly turning evil, Nora breaks into G. Simone & Associates and steals blueprints for McCulloch before frying all their servers. All three of these actions are felonies, by the way.

After that Nora pretends to be evil and recruits several villains to form a new team of Rogues. They infiltrate McCulloch and steal the Mirror Gun. Predictably the Young Rogues then turn on Nora, but she and Barry manage to capture them.


Back at STAR Labs, Nora explains to Team Flash that she was never evil after all, but was just pretending to be because she needed the Rogues' help to steal the Mirror Gun.


Jesus wept, what a ridiculous and stupid-ass plan!

First of all, there were about a thousand variables in her little scheme, and if any one of them had gone wrong the whole thing would have collapsed. What if Weather Witch or Queen Bee had told her to get lost and left? She'd have been screwed, and would never have got the Mirror Gun.


Secondly, there's the fact that Nora's plan involved committing several major crimes in order to work. Yes, she was doing it all for a good reason, but it doesn't change the fact that she's now a criminal. If your plan involves breaking numerous laws, it might be time to rethink it.


• Nora sneaks into the offices of "G. Simone & Associates." That's a reference to writer Gail Simone, who worked on DC comics such as Birds Of Prey, Batgirl and Sinister Six. She also created the Peter Merkel version of Ragdoll (the one seen in this episode).

At Simone, Barry notes that the company's hard drives have been fried by an electrical pulse that overwhelmed the surge protectors, which can handle a thousand joules. Suspecting Nora's involvement, Iris asks how many joules are in a lightning bolt. Barry says, "A billion."

Jesus Christ, writers! A lightning bolt contains FIVE BILLION joules of power! You guys covered this very topic just two episodes ago in Godspeed!

• I love how Nora's idea of becoming "evil" is to darken her lipstick and put on a leather jacket. Look out, y'all! We got us a badass over here!

• Over at DC, the Flash has always had one of the most memorable rogues' galleries in all of comicdom (second only to maybe Batman's). Sadly, that hasn't translated to the TV show.


They made a few half-hearted attempts early on in the series— they added Captain Cold and Heat Wave, but they were quickly spun off onto Legends Of Tomorrow. Weather Wizard, Pied Piper, Mirror Master and the Trickster have all appeared, but most of them were one-off villains who appeared once or twice before disappearing completely. And they certainly never all teamed up to fight the Flash. Pity.


Unfortunately, Nora's team of "Young Rogues" carries on this tradition. Her sorry little team consists of herself and three previously seen second-string villains, including Weather Witch, Queen Bee and Rag Doll. Wow, what a disappointing lineup.

Weather Witch first appeared back in O Come, All Ye Thankful. In that episode she was unquestionably a psychotic villain, as she attempted to murder her own father! She made another appearance a few episodes later in The Flash & The Furious. Oddly enough, there she seemed to be having trouble deciding which side of the law she was on, as she appeared uncharacteristically contrite and remorseful at her trial. She even saved Nora's life at the end!

Annnnnd then she's back to being evil in this episode. 


Queen Bee, aka the Bug-Eyed Bandit, hasn't been seen in quite a while. She first appeared way back in the Season 1 episode All Star Team Up. She also made an appearance in Season 4 of Arrow.


Rag Doll appeared earlier this season in All Doll'd Up. Pretty sure he was captured at the end of that episode (after Ralph literally shoved him up his ass— no, I'm not kidding), so I'm assuming he must have escaped from prison somehow.

 At one point Barry gets an alert and says, "Hey, it's CCPD There was a break-in at an architecture firm on 34th and Williamson."

As we all know, The Flash just lovvvvvves naming buildings and streets after prominent comic book artists and writers. "34th and Williamson" is likely a reference to Joshua Williamson, the current writer of The Flash comic.


• Here's a shot of Caitlin from last week's episode— the one in which her father was brutally murdered by Cicada II. Note her typical reddish-brown tresses.

Here she is this week. Spot anything different about her? She's now perilously close to being a blonde! Apparently she chose to grieve the death of her father by high-tailing it to the nearest salon and getting her hair lightened! 

• Caitlin and Ralph breach to the Arctic, where they check out her father's old lab. While there, Caitlin comforts Ralph, who thinks she's coming on to him. She reacts with disgust at the very idea of them hooking up (harsh!). 


I'm assuming this is a nod to the fact that in Season 4, Ralph was initially introduced as a love interest for Caitlin. In an interview at the San Diego Comic-Con, Hartley Sawyer (who plays Ralph) claims the writers seriously considered pairing up the two. For some reason Danielle Panabaker (who plays Caitlin) quickly put the kibosh on that idea though, stating, "No, I'm not doing that."


So that's really a thing? Actors can actively refuse to participate in scenes they don't like and demand changes? I thought they were under contract and had to do whatever the script says. 

And why was Panabaker so adamantly against Caitlin hooking up with Ralph? Is it a case of her not wanting her character defined by a man, or some such hooey? Or do the two actors not get along?

• Once again, every time I see "Starchives" written out I read it as "star chives."

• Cisco references STAR Labs' satellites, which he's dubbed Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte.


Hmm. Back in All Doll'd Up , Cisco commandeered DeVoe's satellites and reprogrammed them for STAR Labs' use. He called these satellites Hal, Data, Robbie and Colossus, after four famous pop culture robot/A.I. characters.


I guess at some point in the past few months he's decided he likes Sex And The City more than robots.


• At one point Barry fears he's failed Nora as a father, forcing her into a life of crime. Joe tries to comfort him by saying, "Nora broke the law. And there should be repercussions for that. But whenever you guys step out of bounds, I always have to remind myself, the detective side says there's the law. But the father side says there's also what's right. And I'm always gonna choose to be your father first."


Wow, there's a lot to unpack there. First of all, Joe just admitted that Nora's broken several major laws in this episode, and that she'll have to pay for what she's done.


HAW HAW HAW! Psheeeew! That's a good one, Joe! We all know there's no goddamned way in hell Nora's ever going to be prosecuted or serve time for breaking and entering and the willful destruction of property. 


And why should she? After all, as we've seen in past episodes, murder's not even a crime in the Arrowverse! Remember when Team Flash met Savitar back in Season 3? He told Iris that he'd murdered people before, and she calmly stated, "And you are going to have to live with that. But we won't give up on you, okay? That is not what we do." 


Note that she treats his confession with the same level of concern one would have when one burns the toast, and doesn't think to turn his ass in to her policeman father. Because apparently murder's not a big deal in this world.


So there's no doubt in my mind that Nora will face ZERO consequences for the many crimes she commits in this episode.

Secondly, did Joe just say that being a father to Nora and supporting her takes precedence over upholding the law? Yes. Yes he did.

• My absolute favorite part of the episode: Weather Witch tells XS she knows her secret identiy. Note Nora's "bad girl" look here, completely with mask and nearly-black lipstick.

Two seconds later, Nora realizes there's no point in hiding behind who she is anymore and removes her mask. Somehow, taking off her tiny domino mask magically causes her lipstick to lighten about twenty or thirty shades! HAW! It's pretty funny once you know to look for it.

• When the Young Rogues infiltrate McCulloch, they leave Cisco & Sherloque in their hideout. Sherloque easily breaks out of his bonds, causing an astonished Cisco to ask how he did so. Sherloque says, "I was trained in the art of escape by Thaddeus Brown from Earth-51."

In the comics, Thaddeus Brown was an escape artist and the original Mister Miracle, before Scott Free took on the name.

• Kudos to Weather Witch for calling out Nora when she picks an obviously phony name when they're trying to avoid calling attention to themselves during their heist.

And yes, in the comics, "Jenni Ognats" was actually XS, and was the granddaughter of Barry and Iris.


• Nora's plan involves breaking into McCulloch Technologies and stealing a hi-tech Mirror Gun. I assume these are both references to Evan McCulloch, who became the Mirror Master in the comics.

• I'm starting to wonder if this episode was running long, and they had to cut out some scenes? There's a lot here that just plain doesn't make any sense, as if huge swathes of plot are missing.


Case in point: Nora and her posse show up to infiltrate McCulluch Technologies dressed in military uniforms. Where in the name of Stan Lee's Toupee did they get those? There's never any mention of robbing an army surplus store or anything— they just show up in perfectly tailored and accurate uniforms.

Then a bit later, the Young Rogues turn on Nora, take a room full of generals hostage and demand to see the Flash. The "generals" then drop their holographic disguises, revealing themselves to be Team Flash.


How the hell did all THAT happen? Last time we saw Barry & Joe, they were at CCPD talking about fatherhood. Nora was at the West house, chatting about Nora with Cecile. At some point while we weren't looking, they all got together, figured out Nora's plan, went to STAR Labs, dug out HR's old holographic transmorgrifier, replicated several of them, disguised themselves as military brass and infiltrated McCulluch. Whew!

I don't need every minor little detail spoon-fed to me, but these seem like things that should have been addressed.

• Once they're inside McCulloch, Nora sets a small metal case on a table. The lid pops open, and Rag Doll climbs out of it. A couple things here:

First of all, I get that his body's superhumanly flexible, but there's no way in hell an adult male could fit inside that case, no matter how much he could flatten himself. The only way he could fit in there is if he can shrink as well.

Secondly, it's patently obvious that Rag Doll's climbing up through a hole in the bottom of the case. The Flash usually features pretty top notch FX (especially for TV) but they really dropped the ball here.

• After the Young Rogues turn on Nora, their hostages drop their holographic disguises and reveal they're really Team Flash.

This "transmorgrifier" technology has a long history on the show, as it was first seen back in Season 3. HR used it to disguise himself, so he wouldn't be arrested for having the exact same face as serial killer Eobard Thawne.

Speaking of that, the writers have apparently either forgotten all about that or decided to drop it entirely. Despite the fact that Sherloque also looks like Thawne, he comes and goes freely about Central City and no one ever says a word.

• After a short battle, Iris knocks out Rag Doll and says he's lucky she didn't throw him off a building. That's definitely a reference to All Doll'd Up, in which Rag Doll threw Barry off a building and Iris jumped off it to save him.

• At the end of the episode, Future Grace tinkers with the Atomizer she stole. As she does so, she recites the "Pelican" poem her Uncle Orlin taught her. Orlin then seemingly appears and the two say the poem together.

Many fans are confused by this scene, wondering if Orlin's somehow figured out a way to come back from the dead. I thought it was pretty obvious that Future Grace's slow descent into madness is accelerating, and she's simply hallucinating him. 

This Week's Best Lines:
Meh. Not very many this week.


(Sherloque's cell phone buzzes)

Ralph: "You gonna get that or..."
Sherloque: "Yeah, I'm going to get it, but I know already it's Renee Aldler..."
Caitlin: "Adler."
Sherloque: "Adler. With these emoticon pictogram things that she send me."
Caitlin: "Oh, master detective like you can't decode a few emojis?"
Sherloque: "I can decode these emojis no problem, huh? Heart, she like me. Kissy face, want to kiss me. Peach, eggplant, she like fruit and vegetable."
(Caitlin and Ralph exchange knowing glances at the true meanings of the "peach" and "eggplant" emojis.)

Ralph: "Caitlin,look. Book of Ralph works great for other people, but never actually worked for me. I know I'm not built for love. And that's okay."
Caitlin: "Ralph Dibny, you are kind, intelligent, and compassionate. And most of all, you put the needs of others before yourself. So that means you are built for love, and you deserve someone who loves you back."
Ralph: "Caitlin I'm sorry, I just don't feel that way about you."
Caitlin: "Ugh. Gross!"
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